The Value of Immigrants: The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and U.S.

  • Sun, April 08, 2018
  • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, Texas 77004

The Chinese Exclusion Act was a U.S. federal law passed in 1882 that was finally repealed in 1943. It set strict restrictions for Chinese migrants wishing to settle in the U.S., and was the first U.S. regulation aimed at preventing a specific ethnic group from immigrating. For those who entered legally, they were still subjected to harsh discrimination, but 135 years later, their descendants in the U.S. are successful and contributing members of the American society.

It is impressive to note the numerous contributions that Chinese immigrants (and all immigrants) have made to this country. Immigration has been a cornerstone of the success of the U.S., Texas, and Houston, but U.S. immigration still faces challenges. Besides the 700,000 Dreamers (young people under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA), there are also hundreds of thousands of people from Central America who will lose their Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as well as H-1B visa holders’ spouses who encounter ongoing impediments to legal employment in the U.S. Moreover, family reunification is also being curtailed.

How will the U.S. navigate the complex issues surrounding immigration, and what will the effects be for the coming decades? Join OCA Greater Houston, HAAPI Film Festival, Asia Society Texas Center, and other co-presenters for a short film screening of The Chinese Exclusion Act and an enlightening conversation focusing on the value of immigration and the future of the U.S., Texas, and Houston.


  • 2:00 pm | Documentary film screening of The Chinese Exclusion Act (Houston Premiere) 
  • 2:45 pm | Panel discussion followed by Q&A (speakers to be announced)
  • 3:45 pm | Reception with light refreshments

About the Film

The new PBS documentary film The Chinese Exclusion Act by award-winning documentary filmmakers Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu of Steeplechase Films sheds light on the important connections between the Chinese Exclusion Act and the history of American civil liberties, immigration, and culture. By examining the socio-economic and geo-political forces that led to the Act, the film uncovers its unmistakable and wide-ranging consequences on national attitudes towards race, culture, politics, and society. At its core, this is a film about American identity, tracing the arc of what has defined being “American” from the time the United States was a fledgling republic through its astronomical rise as a world superpower. Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is one of the co-producers and is leading the educational outreach for this documentary.

About the Speakers

Horacio Licon is the Vice President of International Investment & Trade for the Greater Houston Partnership, as is responsible for developing and implementing initiatives to attract foreign direct investment to Houston and for promoting trade development. Previously, Horacio worked with Mexico’s national oil company, PEMEX, where he was responsible for supplier research and analysis in its Houston international procurement office. There, he assisted many Houston-based firms with innovative technologies for the oil and gas industry to enter the Mexican market. Horacio's international economic development career started with the City of San Antonio, Texas in their Monterrey office in 1999. He then worked as trade officer for TradePartners UK before moving to Mexico City as Deputy Head of Trade & Investment for the British Embassy. He came to Houston in 2009 as Energy Sector Lead for UK Trade & Investment and later served as Head of Trade & Investment for the British Consulate General, where he was responsible for attracting investment and promoting British companies in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Horacio has a B.S. in industrial and systems engineering from Tecnologico de Monterrey and speaks fluent Spanish, English and French.

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